Bamboo has become the latest and greatest flooring option for people who are looking for green ways to spruce up their homes and offices, but is bamboo really all it’s cracked up to be?
Certainly, bamboo can be a good wood-flooring alternative, but it’s important to be aware that not all bamboo floors are created equally. Probably the best thing about bamboo is it’s ability to replenish itself incredibly quickly and with minimal stress on the enviroment. The stalks are harvested, but the root system stays in place. This protects against soil runoff and new growth sprouts quickly. Bamboo can grow as much as a foot per day without the use of fertilizers. Trees can take 20 to 120 years to reach cutting age. Leaving the trees that are so important to offsetting the effects of global warming intact is a great idea to be sure.
Bamboo flooring itself is attractive, and is just as flat and smooth as traditional wood flooring. It is not however, harder than traditional woods, and may be softer than some. If you are going to be upset by your floors getting the “weathered” look from being walked on by shoes and heals then bamboo might not be your best choice. Nevertheless, it is a very attractive wood, and with proper care can last a good long time.
Other than growing quickly, which makes it a very renewable resource, is bamboo Earth and people-friendly? Bamboo for flooring is mostly imported from China, which is not known for holding human rights high on it’s list of priorities. As far as farming practices, bamboo is not necessarily being farmed in a manner that could be considered eco-friendly, either. Often, forests are cleared in order to plant bamboo. This removes valuable trees and creates a monoculture. Erosion until the bamboo plantations are established is a problem, and more chemicals and fertilizers have become necessary to increase production and stave off the effects of this created monoculture.
On the other hand, there are suppliers that have pledged to purchase bamboo only under fair trade circumstances and with the promise of sustainable farming practices and minimal use of chemical and pesticides.
While bamboo holds promise as being a great alternative flooring, it’s not there yet as the answer to all of our wishes and dreams for eco-friendly floors. If you decide to buy bamboo flooring, do your homework first and check out where your floors are coming from along with the growing and manufacture process. Then if you decide to go with bamboo, you can feel comfortable knowing you’ve made your wisest choice.